Have you ever listened to people eat?

I’m in the airport – O’Hare, with the crappiest amenities of any airport I frequent – at a frigging Chili’s listening to the sounds of people eating.

Once you pay attention, you can’t avoid them. Crunching and smacking, slurping and chomping, all at a clip that does not indicate mindful eating.

After much debate, I didn’t order the grilled salmon (though ironically, that’s what sounded good) in favor of chips and skillet queso, a side salad, and water. The stupidly high premium they put on the one healthy entree pissed me off — so I showed ’em by clogging my arteries, padding my ass further, and eating my meal through guilt.

So there.

Sunday nights at the airport are the hardest for me. I love my job, but leaving my husband and the crew on our happy weekend – and knowing I chose this life – make me feel a little lost. By tomorrow I’ll be back in the throes of work and relieved to be out of my home office, where I see not the coworkers for whom I have great respect and shared accountability but the dogs and cats and outdoors wanting me to come play. Every day in my home office is a struggle to not nap, play hooky, or lose the entire day in endless and disrtacting emails.

But tonight, I’m wishing I didn’t need to leave my family to go to work. And that I didn’t need this work to make me feel human.

For months now I’ve been sitting with the idea of SAHM’ness.  For me, that is.  For you, I don’t care.  You make your own choices based on a life that’s only yours to live and therefore only yours to judge.  I think right or wrong is relative and people make the best choices they can.

I’d never seriously considered staying at home with my kids.  For one thing, I was raised by a divorced mom, saw my dad on alternate weekends, and turned out fine.  For another, I’d always been the primary breadwinner.  And?  I don’t really like kids.

Actually, I do like kids.  I like your kids because they’re cute and silly and funny and I can give them back.  I like kids sitting next to me on planes, people.  I like kids. But once upon a time I taught gymnastics to toddlers.  It didn’t go well.  See, I’m not fun.  I’m smart and interesting and funny — sometimes even silly — but not fun.

I’ve been given the idea due consideration because I make more money than my husband so we’d need a few years to plan if I wanted to stay home for a long time.  And you know?  I don’t.  I think some people are meant to be in that role and I don’t think I’m one of them.

So while I reserve the right to change my mind when I have my own kids, I don’t expect to want to be a SAHM for any long length of time.  A year?  Yea, that’d be cool.  A decade?  Doubtful.

Call me selfish if you will, but the version of me I am when I’m working at something I love is fantastic.  My job, I believe, is to be the best me I can be so my kids can follow my example — the best wife, friend, daughter, sister, worker and mother.  I want them to be the fantastic version of themselves.

So I’ll keep doing this job that pushes me to be a better version of myself and if things change, they change.  For now, I’ll just accept that no decision is easy when it’s important.

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12 thoughts on “

  1. I agree with you. I think I would be a really depressed as a SAHM.
    Oh, and we were in O’Hare about three weeks ago… and couldn’t believe how little there was. The International terminal is awful!

  2. I feel really similar to this – though I reserve the right to change my mind when I finally do end up having kids. But I grew up with a SAHM who has since gone back to work and loves what she does (and works SO hard). Makes me wonder what would have happened if she’d gone back to work sooner? I don’t know. She worked really hard as a SAHM and often volunteered for so many different things that she was gone a lot. I do know that I never thought I would be a SAHM, and now I at least think that maybe for a year or so it wouldn’t be so bad. So, I think that’s a pretty good progression for me, given that for a very long time I was convinced I would never want kids, and now I look at babies and tell my fiance I want one now (even though we are so not ready for one for a few years!)

    Anyway, I’m sort of rambling, but I like knowing that other people think about these things too…

  3. Hmmm. Decisions Decisions. I still haven’t made this one! I keep saying ‘We’ll see’. Yeah I guess we will see come October… AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

    It’s doubtful I’ll be able to be a full time SAHM…. but I’m also trying to decide if I just work a ‘job’ for a couple years that is part time and allows me to be really flexible and not have to ‘think too hard’ at work. And in a couple years pick back up with ‘following career goals/dreams’ – when the kid(s) are a little older and I’m more comfortable with them being in full-time daycare. Or keep working from home in a job that doens’t make me very happy because it would allow me lots o time with the baby.

    Hubby was working in the yard a lot this weekend and I told him to make sure to plant those money trees 😉

  4. Arg. I can’t stand the sound of people eating. Mouth noises are like nails on a chalkboard for me. 😦
    Now on to the meat:
    I was raised by a SAHM and it worked out really well. I hated it then, but realize now how fortunate I was to have a mom who was always looking out for me (and um, looking over my shoulder – that’s the ‘hated it’ part), and available to do things with me/for me. I would love to be a SAHM, but I also have this professional career path, so unless something huge changed in our lives (wake up as millionaires one morning?!), I’ll be working. Fortunately, my industry offers some very flexible scheduling options, so I hope to transition to something of that sort when I have kids.

  5. Just heard this from my mother and figured I’d share cause I thought it was interesting– she had five kids and was a stay at home mom for most of the 35 (we were very spread out!) years that we were at home– she said that if you can/want to choose when to stay home for some time with your kids– don’t choose when they’re babies/toddlers like most people do, but stay home when they’re teenagers. She said that anyone (obviously an exaggeration but for the sake of point) can care for the basic needs of a baby, but that when your kid needs YOU it’s when they’re growing increasingly independent and facing all the challenges of being a mini-adult. She said this is harder for a couple reasons– the problems of teenagers are more complicated and also there will be more time where you’re just on your own because they’re out of the house doing activities, working, hanging out with their friends, so it’s less gratifying than having a baby to snuggle all day. But, she said she found it essential to be there for those really hard days in teenage life– the days that your kid finds themselves on the wrong side of a clique or a love triangle– and that it was also really important to get to know their friends and to make them welcome in the house so that they didn’t feel like they always had to escape parental involvement. I’m sorry for writing a novel, I just found this piece of advice from an experience mother really interesting and thought I’d share.

    • @Turtle, Hello, this is me. Don’t ever apologize for writing a novel.

      I have a coworker who says the same thing, actually. If you have to choose, choose middle school + high school. Interesting thought.

      I love this conversation we’re all having here. Slightly different than at Jenna’s, but just as interesting.

    • @Turtle,
      Funny because that’s what my mom did and I think it was the right call even though we didn’t talk much. In hindsight, it was nice that she could see things that were happening and even if she coudln’t address them herself, she could direct other people to help me out. 🙂

      @Marisa: Funny that you mention That Wife’s blog because I thought you were playing off Jenna’s blog. Interesting timing 😛

  6. I would never consider it selfish to be a working mom who enjoys a successful career! My mom was one of the most ambitious people I knew throughout my childhood, always making her way up the chain, upgrading her skills, getting more education etc. Although I was jealous of my friends who had moms who made delicious meals, kept a serenly tidy house, and were always available to their kids, my mom was still there for me emotionally and making sacrifices for me in her own ways. Its only now that I’m an adult that I see that. She laid the example for my sister and I that you can be a strong, confident, work-oriented woman and still be caring and emotionally open hearted to the important people in your life. If you have girls, I’m sure they’ll be smart little butt-kicking chicks thanks to your great example.

  7. I have always (well, as long as I’ve imagined having kids) wanted to be a SAHM. Mostly, and selfishly, because I want to spend those first few years with my child, bonding and physically being there. I also like housework, routine, and am generally the domestic half of our partnership. That said, I’m doubtful that will be my life. I’m like many women these days who finds herself making a lot more money than her partner.
    I have a job I love that fulfills me and is flexible enough to allow me ample leave time and part-time options after we have a baby. My husband though, just has a job he works so we can pay off debt and he can keep holes off his resume. It would make the most sense for us that I keep my full time job and he be a SAHD. Now most women would love this or at least be happy one half of the couple could stay home, but it makes me a little sad thinking that I may not have the time I so desire at home with a little one. I also worry that the situation would build resentment between us. Resentment that I didn’t get to be the one to stay at home (being the one who always wanted to) and him souring on the fact that he never really wanted to be a SAHD but got stuck with it because he doesn’t make as much money as his wife…
    Good thing we have a couple years for life to change as it will. Maybe the situation will be totally different when we get things started. Or maybe I’ll just take Turtle’s advice and “choose” to stay at home when they’re a little older with the hubs “choosing” to stay at home when they’re young.

  8. I am so conflicted on this one! I’m the youngest, and my mom waited until I was comfortably into elementary school before going back to get her Masters and work full time. I never spent a day of my childhood in daycare or rode a school bus home to an empty house, which makes it really difficult for me to comprehend giving up care of a child. I want to BE THERE when we raise our hypothetical children to care of them and experience all their firsts, but I also can’t imagine being a full time SAHM. I don’t want to give up my career, and I’m afraid that as rewarding as staying home would be that it would still leave me isolated and stir crazy. I’m moving into a field that I hope will be more friendly to taking a year or two off and returning, but it’s scary when so many women find it challenging to get a job because of the baby resume gap.

    I blame my mother for being a SAHM and then pursuing a career. I know it wasn’t easy for her, but it makes me want the best of both too!

  9. Hi, I’m a first-time commenter, but long-time reader. I don’t know what else to say to this post other than I echo the heart of the post (the not SAHM part, not the eating part, although I DO hate hearing people eat. ;)).

    Whether or not we have kids in the future, I am pretty sure that I don’t have it in me to be a SAHM. That choice is always a personal one for that woman. And you’re right…show your kids that it’s okay to be you. And that being the best you, no matter what it is, can give them something to look up to.

    Thanks for all your posts! 🙂

  10. Ha. I taught gymnastics too. But I didn’t last long in that job. I feel the same way, I just don’t know if I could be a SAHM. Not only that, but I don’t think we could afford it- until last month, I was the breadwinner.

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